The Shawcross Report sets out the need for more rigorous and better Prevent training, including of those directly involved in the assessment of individuals being considered for a Prevent referral.
It also includes all those employed in client (pupil, student or patient) facing roles. He does not say how many people this has involved.
The Home Office publishes annual fact sheets on Prevent and Channel but the last time they reported on how many people had been trained was in November 2019, when it stated that over one million people had received training.
All these individuals are receiving training in what to look for as “signs of concern” that currently violate various civil liberties including the freedom of religion, association and legal dissent.
Prevent training: when being concerned is ‘concerning’
These “signs of concern” include indications of changes in behaviour that are supposedly signs of ‘extremism’.
Examples of these include a new or renewed interest in religion, expressing concerns about social justice, and other vague and broad indicators that capture much of what it means to be a young person in today’s world.
While the training material will include concerns associated with right-wing extremism and other forms of activism, only one set of religious beliefs and its adherents are identified: British Muslims.
Against the statistical evidence, right-wing extremism is to be downplayed in any new training.
Denying the living diversity of Britain’s public spaces
In recommending that the training should provide a greater emphasis on ‘Islamist’ extremism, the Shawcross report is placing the wider communities of British Muslims under greater suspicion and reproducing this suspicion – which is divisive – in public settings.
Public setting in which inter-community and inter-religious interactions take place between diverse groups can be profoundly positive experiences, but instead they will be further securitised, regulated and in some cases, shut down.
This is especially the case in schools, where children and young people whose self-development and religious expression is made a particular focus of scrutiny and anxiety.
This blog is based on the People’s Review of Prevent: Response to the Shawcross Review